City Delays Vote on $60 Million Safety Complex

City Delays Vote on $60 Million Safety Complex

In the first meeting in city hall since four new members joined the Tallahassee City Commission, three of those officials voted to delay a move forward with a $60 million Public Safety Complex.

Despite some community concerns, the Public Safety Complex was on the fast track due to the votes of a city commission that was made up of four members that are no longer serving.

To date, the City was moving toward the development of a community-focused public safety campus that would serve as the headquarters for the Tallahassee Police Department.

On February 28, 2018, the City Commission authorized staff to issue an RFP for the acquisition of real estate for a public safety campus along the South Monroe Street and/or Orange Avenue corridors. Prospective bidders were invited to submit proposals for acquiring the necessary real estate including a timeline for land acquisition, procurement processes and public input.

The responses for potential sites were received on June 5, 2018, and the Commission approved funding for the land acquisition and relocation assistance for current tenants on October 17, 2018.

At this point no contracts have been signed, which means the final decision on where the complex will be located is still up for debate.

The vote to move forward with the selection of an architectural firm for the Public Safety Complex gave new commissioners a chance to weigh-in on a project that some believe has not been properly vetted.

After listening to citizen input that voiced concern’s about the project, City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox began the discussion by saying, “I cannot sit here and just move without taking into consideration all the comments we heard here tonight.”

She added, “We still have work to do on the location.”

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, who has supported the project from the beginning, said “there has been a lot of misinformation put out there.”

Richardson’s response to Commissioner Williams-Cox was pointed. “Let me tell you all this. This is not a class project for me…….Twenty-five years ago I moved to the southside…we raised our family on the southside… I’ve got skin in the game.”

Richardson added, “It’s been vetted, there is support for it.”

Mayor John Dailey endorsed Richardson’s comments by saying, “that was right on point and needed to be said.”

However, Commissioner Matlow – who was next to speak – challenged previous statements offered to support the vote.

“I want to be clear Mayor Gillum voted against this location…I want to make sure the record is clear on this specific issue,” said Matlow.

Mayor Dailey had previously indicated that Gillum supported the location of the project.

Second, he questioned Deputy City Manager Cynthia Barber’s statement that the proposed location was not part of a “weed and seed” area.

Matlow asked why is their weed and seed signage on South Meridian?

Barber responded by saying, “I don’t have an answer for that. I am not even aware it is there. But I do know we don’t have a weed and seed program.”

The Weed and Seed program is a community based strategy sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in designated high crime neighborhoods across the nation.

Critics argue the program creates a financial incentive for law enforcement to arrest individuals.

Matlow continued by saying, “I want to be absolutely clear. This commission hasn’t given any direction on this project yet at all…Frankly I am a little bit insulted that we are forced into this position.”

In the end, Matlow, Williams-Cox was joined by Dr. Bryant to delay the vote on moving forward. Rather, the three commissioners moved a successful motion to have two townhall meetings to not only address support for the project, but to seek input about where the project should be located and what it should look like.

7 Responses to "City Delays Vote on $60 Million Safety Complex"

  1. My hat’s off to the new commissioners for slowing this down to look into it further…and not succumbing to the pressure to “go along to get along” with the rest of them. With the price tag for this heading up to $60,000,000 total transparency is needed to make sure it doesnt become the latest Tallahassee boondoggle. By the way… have those $45,000,000 Honeywell smart meters paid for themselves yet?…Mr. Marks?

  2. After touring the Consolidated Dispatch Center, seeing the Emergency Response and adjacent fire station last week, the question is why can’t the Public Safety Complex be located here on City owned land in close proximity of other emergency facilities?

    For the Southside, put a Precinct in the highest crime area.

  3. A useful tool would be a map to see where ALL of the offices for the sheriff, police, sub-stations (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie), the Emergency Management Office, jails, detention centers, rehab areas, state troopers, FBI, Federal Correction facilities etc. are located in Leon County. They already have a huge footprint, Curtis – one next to your house won’t make things better. Now make another map – look at all of the current city (and County) owned buildings (about 80? For the City) and now add the city owned properties. The City has PLENTY of land.

    What’s the yearly maintenance cost on this building? Now add salaries of new employees? What exactly is the building going to be used for? Sounds like the City will need a lot more employees to do whatever they plan on doing? What a high priced debacle! With a large continual price tag! For what? Who’s making money on this?

    Isn’t this deal right after the City had the largest employee lay-off in its history – concurrent with FBI subpoenas coming in? With Barber’s promotion? Barber’s responses – classic….; let’s see was Fernandez involved, Maddox? Gillum? There’s enough data.

  4. Good job Williams Cox! Don’t let Curtis Richardson dictate.

    Ultimately this shows we have a block of three that are using their brains … finally!

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